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Foodie destinations in Florida for anniversary

  • h

Hi! I have a question for you all. It's rather broad, I realize, but I'll try to put as many details in as possible. My husband and I were all set for a 5 year anniversary celebration at Disney World, where we got married. Our disappointment with this resort has been increasing with each passing year, though, and we're now looking around for another place to celebrate our anniversary. A Florida location would be ideal, since we're now Orlando locals, so we'd prefer a place we could drive to and that isn't extremely far away. We'd considered the Keys, but that's quite a drive.

What we liked about WDW was that we could stay in a luxurious hotel (the Grand Floridian) and have great restaurants like Victoria & Albert's and good restaurants like the California Grill and Flying Fish right there. Are there any places you all could recommend that would fit this bill, as far as having an elegant hotel and great dining nearby? Our anniversary is in August, so it's rather short notice, but we're desperately seeking a truly special experience.

As far as cuisine, we don't really care about the type, as long as it's high quality. Our favorite places to eat here are Victoria & Albert's, Roy's, Boma, the California Grill, and Timpano to a lesser extent. We like all types of food: Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, French, American, etc. etc. We've done beach vacations before where everything nearby offered fried foods only, and that's not what we're looking for. We want something a bit more upscale, with restaurants nearby to interest & inspire us.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Heather W

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  1. Interesting that you haven't mentioned staying at the Ritz in Orlando and dining at Norman's. I just returned from your city and had another enjoyable dinner there. For a more upscale getaway (a mere three hours away), I would suggest driving down to Palm Beach and staying at the Breakers for sheer decadence and dining in their main restaurant, L'Escalier. I have never had a bad meal there (it is a splurge), the food is fabulous, the ambiance very nice, and the service fantastic (formal yet friendly). It is the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary. You can check out their seasonal menu on the Breakers' website. I can attest to their current tasting menu; as well as other items on their current menu. If you stay for a few days (or make a weekend out of it), there are plenty of other great restaurants to try in the area. Let me know if you want more rex in the area if Palm Beach is a viable option for you. BTW, I agree with you regarding the Grand Floridian experience and V&A. I have to go there each January for a seminar and after a few times, the thrill is certainly gone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zook

      Hi! Well, we live in Orlando, so didn't want to stay in the city. At WDW, we always get the feeling of being far, far away, but that's not really the case when you're staying in the city itself. We still love Victoria & Albert's, but the Grand Floridian service has plummeted dramatically in the past year or so. If I'm dropping $600/night, I want someone to return my calls and help me plan a special event!

      Palm Beach is a possibility - I also saw that the Ritz Carlton has a location in Sarasota. I did a search on food there, but didn't come up with anything overwhelming. Hmmm...

      Cheers!
      Heather W

    2. Why not take a jaunt down to South Beach? There are many great venues to stay at with a wide assortment of great restaurants on Lincoln and environs. There are many SoBe threads on this board you can look up.

      Have you been to downtown St. Pete lately? The bayfront is beautiful, and downtown boasts several good restaurants. The beautifully restored Vinoy Resort is close to the center of the action. There are many good options in the area, including Pacific Wave, BellaBrava, Cafe Alma, Ceviche, and Red Mesa, to name a few--plus Marchand's in the Vinoy itself. And you're a short drive to the Gulf beaches.

      2 Replies
      1. re: laurie

        Laurie read my mind. I was going to suggest the Vinoy also. Beautiful place to spend a special occasion. If you go make sure you do brunch on Sunday.

        1. re: laurie

          Heather,

          My first reaction was to say St. Augustine, my husband and I were there last year. We stayed at a nice B&B on the water, and I researched the food as much as I could with other chowhounds. I will say that I enjoyed it, but after more thought would not do it again. I was not impressed with Opus and the one restaurant I really enjoyed was very casual.

          So when I saw this thread on St. Pete, it was perfect. I stayed at the Vinoy with my then finace for Valentine's Day and the hotel was great, their restaurant was very good. Laurie's other suggestions are great for the off anniversary dinner meal. Red Mesa is one of my favs and they have great fish entrees and sangria. There are some great things to do, not sure how active you are but I used to roller blade all around that area at night.

          PS-my husband and I are going to V&A's for our anniversary in August.

          Good luck

        2. Heather:

          Before brushing off Grande Lakes, go out and have a cocktail in the Ritz lobby bar and dinner at Primo, or do a day spa treatment. I think you'll find the same "escape" feeling you get at Disney.

          Bob

          1. How about a trip to St. Augustine? It's a cute little town with some very good restaurants (our favorite is Opus 39 - you can check out its web site). Robyn

            1 Reply
            1. re: pvgirl

              I second St. Augustine. The Casa Monica is our favorite hotel there, and the suites are great, as is the hotel bar. Also some very good restaurants if you do a search on CH.

            2. My husband and I just got back from a short trip to St. Augustine and I'd have to agree with the suggestions for Casa Monica and Opus 39. We loved the hotel (95 Cordova was great on atmosphere, good on food) and the dinner we had at Opus 39 was wonderful. Every single item on the tasting menu was fabulous. One word of caution - August in St Augustine is not for the faint of heart! Hope you enjoy your anniversary trip as much as we did - Val

              1 Reply
              1. re: vcavett

                Agree with St. Augustine. Casa Monica and Opus 39 are wonderful. From there you are also close to Jacksonville where you have Bistro Aix, Matthew's, Restaurant Medure...there are more. But, have you thought about the Ritz at Amelia Island? That is truly a getaway in every sense of the word...fabulous resort, wonderful fine dining restaurant, spa the whole package. Then you can take advantage of all the restos in Jax and St. A, still get away from it all. Also agree, NO place in Florida is for the faint of heart in August!

              2. Zen and the Omni are a great celebration combination. The Omni is at Champions Gate (I-4, exit 58 on the way to Tampa). Zen is their outstanding Asian restaurant with a subdued Las Vegas feel and great service. They have sushi and hot dishes, all excellent. The best sushi roll is the Zen Experience Roll, lots of flavors together. Makes a great appetizer. The Zen Experience dinner is also fun, where they basically bring one of each hot dish to your table to taste (might require min. 4 people for that, not sure). Staying a night or two at the Omni definitely feels like getting away. They also have a spa, great pool area, and golf.

                I actually like the Omni better than the Ritz-Carlton for a hotel stay. However, Norman's is my top recommendation for an anniversary dinner. In fact, we ate there last year for our anniversary and are going for our anniversary again next weekend!

                1. We just returned from a road trip. These places were great, especially Jazz'd.

                  St Augustine:
                  Cap's On The Water
                  http://www.capsonthewater.com/home.html

                  Savannah:
                  Jazz'd
                  http://www.jazzdsavannah.com/

                  Charleston:
                  Gullah Cuisine
                  http://www.gullahcuisine.com

                  39 Rue de Jean
                  http://www.39ruedejean.com/

                  1. This is too late for the OP - but we did an overnight trip to the Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island for my birthday last week. There is a new chef at Salt - the fancier restaurant there - Richard Gras. Dinner was wonderful. Note that I made some special requests ahead of time - things I especially wanted to eat - and he integrated those into a small plate not too many courses tasting menu for us.

                    In addition - our anniversary was earlier in the week. And we dined at the TPC at Sawgrass. Chef Morey there made us a wonderful menu based on some ideas we gave him about what we like to eat. The TPC is a sem-private club. Open to members and guests at the Marriott at Sawgrass (don't know if it's open to all hotel guests or only those on golf packages at the TPC). I will write more about the TPC in a new thread. Robyn